Thursday, June 2, 2011

What the Thiel Fellowship will prove

Exactly nothing. According to New York Magazine:

The program, also known as the Thiel Fellowship, will award twenty students 19 years old and younger $100,000 each and the mentor­ship of some of the most prominent entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley. The catch? The winners have to stay out of college for two years.

And the winners are as expected, those who least need to go to college. They are already the overachievers.

The magazine article states:

In higher education, he [Theil] believes he has identified a third bubble, with all the hallmarks of a classic speculative frenzy—­hyperinflated prices, investments by ignorant consumers funded largely by debt, and widespread faith in increasing returns.

All these points are well-taken, but if the purpose of the Theil fellowship is to demonstrate that the average American doesn’t need to go to college then the fellowship proves nothing. Consider an alternative fellowship:

Randomly select 100 18-to-19 year olds and hand them $100,000 each. Do the same mentoring for 2 years. The only catch - they have to stay out of college forever.

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